James Hicks, M.D., 50 SIGNS OF MENTAL ILLNESS (Yale University Press)

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Physical Complaints and Pain

You are fed up with doctors. You've seen seven in the last month, and not one of them has been helpful. Each had some different test to run on you, and all the tests have come back normal. Or so they say. You know that you are in so much pain that there must be something causing it. First it was your back, but now your knees and neck are hurting as well. One doctor put his stethoscope to your chest, and you screamed in pain. He asked whether it was a sharp pain or whether you felt burning or pressure. What kind of question is that? It was all of the above!

Now your colon problem has been coming back. You feel gassy all day. Your food doesn't seem like it's digesting properly. Maybe you have an ulcer? And with all these problems, you really don't feel up to having sex any more. It's just too uncomfortable.

You explained all this to the last doctor, but he said he wasn't going to do another exam. He said he'd like you to see a colleague of his, a psychiatrist. He said that the problems were all in your mind. As if you could imagine such pain!

This chapter covers the following topics:

  • Physical Complaints and Pain
  • Pain Is a Complex Physical and Mental Experience
  • Somatoform Disorders Are Characterized by Exaggerated Physical Concerns
  • How to Cope with Pain and Physical Concerns
  • Analgesic Medications
  • Narcotics Are Not the Only Treatments for Pain

This excerpt may not be reproduced without written permission from the publishers.
Fifty Signs of Mental Illness: A Guide to Understanding Mental Health
Yale University Press / New Haven and London
Copyright © 2005 by James Whitney Hicks

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